Leonard Cohen wrote one of the most beautiful -- and frequently covered -- songs of all time, "Hallelujah." He recorded two versions of the song, the original version from Various Positions and a version I like better, longer, edgier, more modern, with very different lyrics, from Leonard Cohen Live In Concert.
Given that there are ten thousand versions or so of this song out there, it's hard to believe that there's only one video of Cohen performing it on YouTube -- and it's the original 1985 version -- and sadly, it's not very good, just a European television appearance lip sync.
Some of the best and most interesting of the many other versions, under the jump -- John Cale, Allison Crowe, kd lang, Jeff Buckley, Brandi Carlile, and Bono.
John Cale -- rough, raw version from 1992. And the hair.
Allison Crowe -- her voice was created to sing this song.
Rufus Wainwright -- one of many clips of him doing this song. Wainwright does many Cohen covers ("Chelsea Hotel No. 2" is my favorite), and yes, it's his version of this song on the "Shrek" soundtrack.
kd lang, who later recorded it on Hymns of the 49th Parallel, in a live 2004 performance that showcases her amazing voice.
Brandi Carlile frequently ends her sets with this song, and her fans consider it her signature closing number. I've seen her do it a couple of times, and she soared.
Other interesting versions worth seeking out:
Probably the best known of all "Hallelujah" covers, the Jeff Buckley version from Grace, and also the "West Wing" soundtrack. The clip is on YouTube with embedding disabled; you can watch it here.
U2's Bono recorded a version for "Tower of Song," an all-star tribute to Cohen. This one is odd and doesn't quite work for me, but he tried to do something different with it, and the background vocal is breathtaking. You can listen here.
Seems there's a new recording of this song almost every day. It is beautiful, though, and I appreciate almost every version! This is the first I've heard Bono's cover, and, I concur with your take. He gets points for being different, but, it doesn't work for me. The melody is lost. There's many great interpreters of Hallelujah and Allison Crowe is my favorite. I agree again - her voice is made for this song.